"I am a translator. I translate the old into the new. It is a process of recapturing the obscurities of the past and reinventing them in the light of the future"
A native of Istanbul, Gülgün is a classically trained Ottoman art expert, sought after interior designer and acclaimed author. Whether passionately lecturing on Ottoman art history at the British Museum or crafting a timeless objet d'art,
this renaissance man is always in his element.
Gülgün's whimsical imagination and insatiable passion for Ottoman art blossomed in childhood in Istanbul. The city's exotic blend of textures, colours and flavors of bygone eras had a profound impact on the young creative. Today, the majestic relics of the ancient melting pot remain his playground and infinite source instead of inspiration.
Although Serdar Gülgün's genuine modesty would keep him from disclosing his full credentials, there is a lot to be said for a designer as highly accomplished and versatile as he is. The world's most prestigious brands such as Herend Porcelains, Four Seasons Hotels, Assouline and Vakko continually seek out his expertise and aesthetic. As a coveted interior designer, Gülgün has decorated heritage buildings around the world and the homes of Istanbul's most prestigious residents.
Throughout his life Gülgün has collected a personal treasure trove of Ottoman art and antiquities. His priceless courtly pieces have been featured in six exclusive exhibitions held at the Imperial Topkapı Palace. The antiques have also inspired his original designs. Gülgün's contemporary twists on rich classics including his beloved turtles perfectly embody his luxurious, idiosyncratic style.
The Story of Ottoman Elegance
"The word 'extravagant' generally refers to something in excess and is related to flamboyance, which can easily turn inelegant, but Ottomans found a way to achieve an elegant extravagance,"
says Serdar Gülgün of his source of inspiration for his collection. His objets d'art fit in a Renaissance man's cabinet of curiosities as well as add lavish touches of eccentricity to the modern home.
His whimsical taste and flamboyant imagination effortlessly conjures glamorous, gem-encrusted art pieces, which are meticulously handcrafted in the original 15th century workshops of the Grand Bazaar. Infusing natural elements with centuries-old workmanship, each curiosity in the collection takes his followers on a new flight of fancy. An Istanbulite and a devotee of Ottoman imperial culture, Gülgün has always been intrigued by the rare spectacles of the Ottoman court and dreams of the Old World.
The collection's signature design motif – turtles – derives from Gülgün's particular fascination with the turtles of the Tulip Era, when Ottoman Sultans placed candles on the carapaces of living turtles, released them in their flower gardens and watched them gently illuminate the mysterious darkness. The designer was further enchanted by the stories of Maharajas bejeweling turtles with precious stones and keeping them as luxurious pets in their palaces. Gülgün also found inspiration in turtles as ancient symbols of longevity, wisdom and patience.
These romantic, mystical images struck a chord with Gülgün, sparking him to create contemporary homages to the Ottoman Sultans' lustrous turtles. His designs are encrusted with the earth's semiprecious stones – such as agate, tiger's eye, turquoise and rock crystal – as well as extraordinary natural gems from the sea, like corals, nautiluses and other beautiful shells.